analog

At the end of last year I decided to delete my social media for good. I had been drifting in this direction for a little while, and in May I finally took the plunge. Disclaimer: I don’t mean to leave anyone with the impression that I am anti-social media; this is just my own journey.

To tell the full story, I’ll go back to sophomore year of high school: I had just transferred from the school system that I had attended for ten years to be closer to home, and it was the first time in my memory that I was truly new. 15 years old and nervous about making a good impression at my new school, I decided that the surest way to make friends would be to have a presence on “social networking.” It seemed like people talked about Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter, so I quickly signed up for all four, and waited. They were a background presence on my phone and in my mind. I didn’t post much on Instagram and I completely failed to understand Snapchat, so I was always more of a passive user. I did end up making friends at my new school, but most of that happened in person: sitting together at lunch, working on a project for class, hanging out in the stands after marching band practice. I wasn’t super involved in social media during high school; it was just kind of there. When I arrived at Williams at the beginning of freshman year, I became a little self-conscious about not understanding social media culture. Would everyone in college ignore me if I didn’t answer their Snapchats fast enough? But as freshman year progressed, I made friends and eventually Williams felt like home—and all of that was based on talking to people. I still wasn’t good at social media, so at the end of spring semester I finally deleted all my accounts for good. It felt right, and I didn’t think much of it over the summer.

Being back on campus this year has felt profoundly different. I’m more at ease just by virtue of familiarity, my classes are fascinating, I love my room and my roommate, and it’s amazing to spontaneously hang out with my friends again in the beautiful Berkshires. On top of all that, I just noticed that this is the first time I’m approaching Williams without a trace on social media. As the semester starts, I’ve heard people mentioning a Facebook poster for a campus event, or someone’s cool Instagram story, and I’ve started to wonder if maybe I am missing out on something. After all, the part of you that you share on social media is a part of you. Am I not seeing that part at all now that I can’t scroll past it, or does social media just highlight a part of someone that is less obvious in person? I have zero regrets about deleting social media; it never worked for me, and I’m glad I realized that. But after abruptly ending a background presence in my life that had been there for four years, I haven’t figured out quite yet how to interact with the world without it.

Watching campus breathe

I’ve found a new favorite spot on campus: the grass in front of Griffin, facing WCMA. It’s not a study spot, or a place to meet friends; it’s a place where I can just be. I found it a couple of days ago when I was early to a 7pm class, and the light over the mountains was so beautiful I couldn’t go inside to wait for class to start. Instead, I just sat there in the grass and took in the rhythm of campus. From here I can see the sky changing over West; a perfectly framed picture of the mountains past the football field through the space between WCMA and Fay; students and professors and dog-walkers scurrying along the sidewalks; the bustle of Route 2; the WCMA eyes. I’ve come to see the eyes differently this year. Last year they felt unnerving, like spectators placed in the middle of everything to keep us under their watchful gaze. But for some reason, the once-menacing jets of light now seem like a beacon in the night, and the seats are remarkably soft for cold stone. From my spot in the grass, gazing back at the eyes and all the life going on around them, I feel like I’m watching campus breathe.

stars

a collection of thoughts on the stars:

“I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.” – Vincent van Gogh

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” —Lady Windermere’s Fan,Oscar Wilde

“The cosmos is within us. We are made of star-stuff. We are a way for the universe to know itself.” – Carl Sagan

“You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

“Only in the darkness can you see the stars.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

“Who has been unhooking the stars without my permission, and putting them on the table in the guise of candles?” -Les Misérables,Victor Hugo

“Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light / I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night” – “The Old Astronomer”, Sarah Williams

Jellyfish and Things

Two quotes from author Haruki Murakami that make me think about what it all means:

“Every one of us is losing something precious to us. Lost opportunities, lost possibilities, feelings we can never get back again. That’s part of what it means to be alive.”

“What we see before us is just one tiny part of the world. We get in a habit of thinking, this is the world, but that’s not true at all. The real world is a much darker and deeper place than this, and much of it is occupied by jellyfish and things.”

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